Monday, 20 April 2009

crash helmets, life preservers and signal flares

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”
[Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk]

I love Annie Dillard.
I love this observation of hers especially.
What exactly is it that we think we do when we worship?
Who are we invoking?
Who are we praising?
Why do we continually talk at God and have the strong desire to fill every waking, worshipping moment with words...
which becomes so much 'white noise' that silence is safely eradicated?

Deep, deep down, is there some long-buried echo of memory which taps at our psyche reminding us that it is indeed a dangerous thing to be still, be silent...
to open ourselves to the possibility of being swept away by the watery torrents of our dynamic, living God?
Is there some primal alarm button which emits frenzied flashes of warning,
shrilly yelling at us that if we stop, be still, be silent,
we may be in serious danger of being utterly moved by God?

Shouting to us that we may be catapulted beyond everything we thought we knew...
flung into the heights, the depths,
the breadth of God's unfathomable love,
and in that act of being flung,
knowing our lives may be irrevocably changed forever?

Yet, in the dizzying, terrifying, holy awesomeness of it all... at the centre...
the One whose grace carries us along in the swirling eddies,
holding us tightly and ensuring we're strapped in for the ride of our lives.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking worship is 'lively' when there's lots of noise and praise bands.
Perhaps we need to turn this on its head.
To allow for spaces of silence in our worship...
To get past the 'white noise' of chattering through the offering and truly make of our lives an offering....

To enable the possibility that our unbelief might be turned into the stunned belief of Thomas....

To open ourselves to the potential of being shockingly, utterly transformed
by the boundless, amazing, wonderful, known-yet-unknown God,
who is closer to us than our breathing.
And when that happens, I want to be handing out crash helmets to everyone and strapping on a life-vest. :)


Kate said...

Just want to let you know that I've plagiarised parts of this for my sermon tomorrow. Hope that's ok!!! :)

Nik said...

Tch, well I'm stealing your Elizabeth Jennings poem for this coming Sunday, so fair swap, I reckon!!! :)

The Irreverent Reverend said...

Yea. I'm using parts of this for our call to worship, Sunday! Thanks, Nik. I'll give you credit. So, if you receive a bunch of angry phone calls at least you are forewarned!!! :)

Nik said...

lol - you are most welcome to use it IR - have fun! It was good for me to revisit this post, so thanks for posting!